Jim Webb Dead Wrong on Executive "Overreach" re: Greenhouse Gases

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Jim Webb's office put out a press release (see the full thing on the "flip") calling for a vote on the "Rockefeller Amendment to Delay EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations." Needless to say, I strongly disagree with Jim Webb that any delay in taking aggressive, comprehensive action on clean energy and climate change makes any sense whatsoever. There are three main reasons we need to act immediately, not delay a minute longer:1) the scientific evidence of dangerous, man-made climate change is crystal clear and voluminous, as is the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that we need to act urgently - as in, this is a planetary environmental emergency - to slash greenhouse gas emissions NOW;
2) our national security depends heavily on a rapid move off of our "oil addiction," which means first and foremost transitioning the U.S. vehicle fleet to far higher efficiency, and also to clean-energy-generated electricity;
3) our economic future will be determined in large part on how rapidly we transition off of 19th and 20th century fuels (mainly coal and oil) and into 21st century energy sources (efficiency, wind, solar, wave, geothermal, next-generation biofuels, and possibly also nuclear power if the cost, safety, and waste disposal issues are all taken care of.
more on the "flip"
lowkell :: Jim Webb Dead Wrong on Executive "Overreach" re: Greenhouse Gases
Frankly, none of that should be remotely controversial. The vast majority of people who aren't in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry - or snookered by the constant barrage of Big Lie propaganda that industry puts out (see the Chevron "Human Energy" campaign or "Energy Tomorrow" for a constant stream of lies, half-truths, and distortions) - would almost certainly agree with those three points. I know Sen. Mark Warner "gets it," because I've sat down and discussed these issues with him. As for Jim Webb? Sadly - and it truly IS sad for me, as someone who led the "Draft James Webh" effort and who worked for his campaign - it doesn't seem that he has much if any understanding (yesterday, he actually said the following words: "I do not believe the Clean Air Act was intended to regulate something as basic and ubiquitous in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide") - or even curiosity to learn - about energy and environmental issues.That's bad enough. But for now I just want to focus on a truly egregious distortion/piece of revisionist history from Webb's press release. Thus, according to Sen. Webb, the "sweeping actions that the EPA proposes  to undertake clearly overflow the appropriate regulatory banks established by Congress, with the potential to affect every aspect of the American economy." Webb believes that "[s]uch action represents a significant overreach by the Executive branch."
That's so many kinds of "wrong" it's hard to know where to start. Just a few points. First off, the EPA's establishment (by President Nixon) was approved by Congress, back in 1970. Second, the Clean Air Act was passed by Congress, extended multiple times by Congress, revised many times by Congress, etc. Third, the U.S. Supreme Court clearly ruled in 2007 that the EPA "can avoid taking further action [on global warming] only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation."  Finally, the U.S. Senate has utterly failed in its duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, per the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, the overwhelming scientific evidence, etc. In 2009, recall that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive, clean energy and climate law. The U.S. Senate, of which Jim Webb was and is a part, then did what it usually does - nothing. Clearly, THAT is where the failure lies, in the U.S. Senate, not with the Executive Branch (or the Judicial Branch, for that matter). Frankly, at this point, the U.S. Senate has made it abundantly clear that it has ZERO ability to tackle this issue. So, here's my message to Sen. Webb and to the rest of his "scorpions in a bottle" (as he calls them) in the Senate: on clean energy and climate change, either lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way!

Senator Webb Calls for Vote on Rockefeller Amendment to Delay EPA Greenhouse Gas RegulationsCalls for bipartisan energy legislation to be enacted this year
Washington, DC-Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today urged his colleagues to support an amendment by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) which would suspend the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources for a period of two years. Senator Webb said the delay would give Congress time to address "legitimate concerns over climate change" without disrupting important progress made on motor vehicle fuel and emission standards.
"I have expressed deep reservations about the consequences of unilateral regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA," said Senator Webb, a cosponsor of Senator Rockefeller's legislation. "This will result in a long and expensive regulatory process that could lead to overly stringent and very costly controls on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.  This regulatory framework is so broad and potentially far reaching that it could eventually touch nearly every facet of this nation's economy, putting unnecessary burdens on our industries and driving many businesses overseas through policies that have been implemented purely at the discretion of the executive branch and absent the clearly stated intent of the Congress."
Senator Webb also renewed his call for Senators on both sides of the aisle to support and enact energy legislation this year: "I have consistently outlined key elements that I would like to see in an energy package.  I have introduced legislation along with Senator Alexander (R-TN) to encourage different forms of energy technologies that would in and of themselves help produce a cleaner environment and more energy independence. We should all be exploring those types of mechanisms while at the same time incentivize factory owners, manufacturers, and consumers to become more energy efficient, and fund research and development for technologies that will enable the safe and clean use of this country's vast fossil fuel and other resources."
Senator Webb said he received assurances from Majority Leader Harry Reid that the Rockefeller provision would be brought to a vote. He entered into the record a letter sent last year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than a dozen other business associations in support of the Rockefeller amendment. (View the letter here)
Remarks of Senator Jim Webb during debate and consideration of S. 493, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs Reauthorization Act of 2011:
March 29, 2011
I was originally going to call up the pending amendment 215-Senator Rockefeller's amendment.  I'm informed that amendment is at present the subject of some negotiation and a consent package but I would like to speak briefly today in support of the amendment that has been filed by Senator Rockefeller and on his behalf also since he is away from the Senate today attending the funeral of a close friend.
Like Senator McConnell, I have expressed deep reservations about the consequences of unilateral regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA.   In my view, this will result in long and expensive regulatory processes that could lead to overly stringent and very costly controls on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.  This regulatory framework is so broad and potentially far reaching that it could eventually touch nearly every facet of this nation's economy, putting unnecessary burdens on our industries and driving many businesses overseas through policies that have been implemented purely at the discretion of the executive branch and absent the clearly stated intent of the Congress.
Our farms, our factories, our transportation systems, our power generating capacity, all would be subject to these new regulations.  This unprecedented, sweeping authority over our economy at the hands of the EPA is at the heart of Senator McConnell's concern. Ultimately, whichever way one ends up voting on his amendment, that common concern defines this debate.
This is not a new concern for me.  When this administration declared in November of 2009 that the President would sign a "politically binding" agreement at the United Nations Framework on Climate Change in Copenhagen, I strongly and publicly objected.  I sent a letter to the President stating clearly that, "only specific legislation agreed upon in the Congress, or a treaty ratified by the Senate, could actually create such a commitment on behalf of our country."
I have also expressed on several occasions my belief that this administration appears to be erecting new regulatory barriers to the safe and legal mining of coal resources in Virginia and in other states.  My consistent message to the EPA is that good intentions do not in and of themselves equal the clear and unambiguous guidance from Congress.
We can see this in the approach the EPA has taken or attempted to take on the regulation of coal ash, on regulating industrial and commercial boilers, on approving new levels of ethanol into gasoline, and, most importantly, its overreach to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources.  I have repeatedly raised these issues with the administration and with my colleagues in the Senate.
In examining this issue, I have also reviewed carefully the Supreme Court's holding in Massachusetts v. EPA.  My opposition to the EPA's present regulatory scheme with respect to carbon dioxide for stationary sources stems in part from my reading of this case.  I am not convinced that the Clean Air Act was ever intended to regulate - or to classify as a dangerous pollutant - something as basic and ubiquitous in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide.   I say that as one of the few members of this body who is an engineer.  To quote one of the most influential Supreme Court Justices from the last century, Justice Cardoza, "the legislation which has found expression in this code is not canalized within banks that keep it from overflowing."  The case Justice Cardoza was commenting on dealt with a different issue, but the Constitutional precept still applies: Congress should never abdicate, or to transfer to others, the essential legislative function given to it and it alone by the Constitution.  The sweeping actions that the EPA proposes to undertake clearly overflow the appropriate regulatory banks established by Congress, with the potential to affect every aspect of the American economy.  Such action represents a significant overreach by the Executive branch.
Notwithstanding these serious concerns with what I view as EPA's potentially unchecked regulation in a number of areas important to our economy, I do have concerns about the McConnell amendment for a number of reasons.
First, Senator McConnell's resolution would jeopardize significant progress that this administration has made in forging a consensus on motor vehicle fuel economy and emissions standards.  The Obama administration has brokered an agreement to establish the One National Program for fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards.  This agreement means that our beleaguered automotive industry will not face a patchwork quilt of varying state and federal emission standards.  Significantly, this agreement is directly in line with the holding in Massachusetts v. EPA, which dealt with new car motor vehicle emissions.  Both in the Clean Air Act and in subsequent legislation enacted by the Congress, there has been a far greater consensus on regulation of motor vehicle emissions than on stationary sources with respect to greenhouse gas emissions.
It has been estimated that these new rules, which are to apply to vehicles of model years 2012-2016, would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and millions of dollars in consumer savings.
That agreement, however, and the regulations that will effectuate it, both rest upon enforcement of the Clean Air Act, which would essentially be overturned by the McConnell amendment.
We have before us a different but equally effective mechanism to ensure that Congress - but not unelected Federal officials - can formulate our policies on climate change and on energy legislation.  Senator Rockefeller's amendment, which I have cosponsored, would suspend EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources for two years.   This approach would give Congress the time it needs to address our legitimate concerns with climate change, and yet, would not disrupt or reverse the progress that has been made on motor vehicle fuel and emission standards.
The majority leader had previously assured me and Senator Rockefeller of his commitment to bring the Rockefeller amendment to the floor.   I very much appreciate his stated intention today to do so.  I hope we will have the opportunity to vote on this measure within the next day or so.
Finally, I would like to say two things.  First, let me say I share the hope of many members of this body, from both sides of the aisle, that we can enact some form of energy legislation this year.  I have consistently outlined key elements that I would like to see in an energy package.  I have introduced legislation along with Senator Alexander to encourage different forms of energy technologies that would in and of themselves help produce a cleaner environment and more energy independence.  We should all be exploring those types of mechanisms while at the same time incentivize factory owners, manufacturers, and consumers to become more energy efficient, and fund research and development for technologies that will enable the safe and clean use of this country's vast fossil fuel and other resources.
The second thing, I was shown a letter earlier today from the Chamber of Commerce strongly suggesting that the only viable alternative in this debate is the McConnell amendment.  I would like to enter into the record another letter that was sent last September by the Chamber of Commerce and more than a dozen other business associations in support of the Rockefeller amendment.

Endorsements Piling Up in 30th State Senate Primary

I just received word that former Virginia Attorney General Mary Sue Terry has endorsed Arlington County School Board memberLibby Garvey in the 30th State Senate district. According to Terry, "While Patsy Ticer leaves big shoes to fill, there's no question in my mind that Libby is prepared to put them on and run - and run hard - for the citizens of her district."This is just the latest in a string of endorsements in the 30th State Senate district primary between Garvey, Del. Adam Ebbin, and Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka.  A brief review:
Garvey: Sen. Patsy Ticer ("I've worked with Libby for years.  She is a fast study and is committed to the issues important to me.  She will be an excellent senator for the 30th district"; Mary Sue Terry.
Ebbin: Leslie Byrne ("Adam represents the progressive leadership this Senate District deserves. I am proud to endorse him") and "ten members of the House of Delegates from Northern Virginia. Democratic Delegates Bob Brink, David Bulova, Eileen Filler-Corn, Patrick Hope, Mark Keam, Kaye Kory, Caucus Chair Ken Plum, Mark Sickles, Scott Surovell, and Vivian Watts."
Krupicka: Gerry Connolly ("Rob is the standout. He has the experience, energy and character to be an effective leader in the State Senate"); Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Sengel and Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne; and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille.
Looking at these three candidates and the endorsements they've received so far, it's not clear to me that anyone has a particular advantage in this race. What do you think?

Senate Democrats Release Proposed Redistricting Plan

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(UPDATE: Lots more maps in the comments section of this diary... - promoted by lowkell)

I just received the following press release from the State Senate Democratic Caucus. I haven't looked at this yet, will do so shortly. What do you all think?
Senate Democrats Release Proposed Redistricting PlanRICHMOND - Today the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate unveiled its plan to redraw Virginia's Senate legislative district lines.
The redistricting plan, submitted Tuesday afternoon to the General Assembly's Division of Legislative Services, is expected to be considered during the week of April 4.   The plan can be found here http://redistricting.dls.virgi...
Because of elections this year (unlike most states, which will hold elections in 2012), the redistricting timetable is short.  It has been only one month since Virginia received corrected census numbers.  The timetable is even further constrained in Virginia, which must submit its plans to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.

Andrew Sullivan: "How Loony is the Right?"

Over at The Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan wonders, "How Loony is the Right?" Sullivan's question is prompted by Newt Gingrich's latest outburst, this time that America is somehow facing - get this now - the danger of "a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American." Sullivan has great fun mocking Gingrich, and indeed it's fun:
...this, I think, is where Gingrich gets his otherwise absurd reputation for being an intellectual.What he does is grasp constantly for huge, world-historical theories and systems in order to situate himself in the present. Doubt rattles him; moderation befuddles him; pragmatism offends him. Only Great Ideas appeal.But he is too emotional to separate his feelings from his thoughts in all this (a human failing but one to be resisted as best one can). And so the content of the ideas becomes secondary to their political usefulness. Only then - when Gingrich sees himself as utterly right and, duh, winning - does he feel comfortable.
Yes, it's fun to mock these loons and their bizarre/ultra-paranoid John Birch Society ideas, but it's also frightening how many of them there are - Donald Trump the "Birther" being the latest - and how many of their voters buy into this lunacy.For instance, check out this new CNN poll, which has only 20% of Republicans "definitely" believing that Barack Obama was born in the United States (43% say he was "definitely" or "probably born in another country"). How can you even reason with people who "believe" something that's categorically, factually, demonstrably (and has been so demonstrated) false? And it's not just on this issue, either. On anthropogenic climate change, about which there is voluminous, overwhelming scientific (e.g., NOT partisan or ideological in any way) evidence, only 36% acknowledge the scientifically correct answer, that the "rise in earth's temperatures [is] due to pollution from human activities." In contrast, 71% of Democrats  and 51% of Independents (both numbers should be 100%, of course) acknowledge reality.
We could do this on issue after issue, where it's not just a matter of having differing opinions, it's a matter of Republicans believing - against all evidence to the contrary - a completely different set of facts. Again, how does one reason or work with someone who operates off a completely non-fact-based set of assumptions about the world? At best, it's not going to be easy.

I Have NOT Left (and Will Not Leave) the Virginia Democratic Party...

Monday, March 28, 2011

The title of this diary is in response to a post by Hokie Guru, entitled, "I've left the Virginia Democratic Party..."  I agree with a number of the points made in Hokie Guru's diary and disagree with others. Really, though, the individual points are not nearly as important as the overall issue here: that many people undoubtedly are seeing these same problems, that many - the question is how many, exactly - are getting frustrated/angry/disgusted, and that some (again, how many?) are choosing to abandon, or scale back their involvement with, the Virginia Democratic Party.  To the extent that this is happening, it's likely that most people are doing it quietly, without writing a blog post or making a public fuss about it. But that doesn't make it any less real.Evidence of this phenomenon? Recall that Creigh Deeds received about 200,000 fewer votes in 2009 than either Mark Warner in 2001 or Tim Kaine in 2005. Deeds' problem wasn't just Obama '08 voters who didn't come back in '09, it was established Democratic off-year voters (ones who voted for Warner and Kaine) who didn't show up at all, because they were not given any good reason to do so.
Anyway, with that brief intro, here are the main problems with the Virginia Democratic Party, as I see them, and also why I'm NOT leaving this party no matter what.
lowkell :: I Have NOT Left (and Will Not Leave) the Virginia Democratic Party...
1. Nothing I've seen in the past few months has changed my mind that the election of Brian Moran as chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia was a HUGE mistake. As I wrote to a Virginia Democratic friend of mine this morning:
Meanwhile, when was the last time we heard a peep from DPVA? Are they on permanent vacation? Seriously, what's going on over there?  Where's the 24/7, sustained narrative FOR Dems and AGAINST Republicans we should be getting? I mean, I'll receive a sporadic press release, maybe an average of 1 ever couple weeks or so, but that's about it. Nothing that would come anywhere close to cohering into a powerful, political narrative....What I'm seriously wondering is WHY is this the case?!? Incompetence?  Lack of resources?  Other?
The response:
This Chairman has neither the time nor the inclination to do anything other than part-time, sporadic sparring on issues. In addition, he lacks the intellectual ability to understand, develop, or implement a sustained narrative. Finally, every single one of his buddies/patrons - Warner, Saslaw, Armstrong, etc. - completely disagree that it is the DPVA Chair's role to develop or have such a sustained narrative.
That about sums it up right there. Complete narrative/messaging FAIL.Just as bad -- potentially disastrous, actually - is this: when was the last time you heard about any recruiting successes by DPVA for the crucial General Assembly elections being held this year? I mean, I see notices for Republican candidates all the time, but I haven't seen one for a Democratic candidate in ages. What the heck is THAT all about? Didn't Brian Moran pledge to recruit a candidate in every district? Are we even close to achieving that? If not, why not? (Could it have something to do with the fact that Brian Moran has a busy, full-time "day job"? We won't even get into how unethical and awful that "day job" is, lobbying and flacking for the scumbag for-profit "education" industry. Ugh.)
2. Many of the top Democratic Party "leaders" in this state continue to be insular, arrogant, top down, out of touch, scornful of progressive activists (grassroots, netroots, whatever), pro-corporate to a large extent, cozy with lobbyists, and lukewarm at best on energy/enviro issues. I could list numerous examples, such as events like this one, or Dick Saslaw's infamous car title lending bill (see here for more), or the many awful (e.g., anti-environmental, anti-progressive in every other way) bills pushed for and/or supported by DINO/conservadem "leader" Ward Armstrong in the House of Delegates. There's also Dick Saslaw and Company's heavy-handed efforts to make redistricting all about protecting the incumbents they like, punishing the ones they don't like, and ensuring they get the pliable people they want into any vacant seats (see the 31st Senate District for the classic case). It's truly abysmal; why would any normal person watching this garbage get excited about Virginia Democrats? Yeah, they don't like the Teapublicans, but what does the Blue Team have to offer exactly?!?
3. There are numerous systemic, structural, ideological, and other issues within the Democratic Party of Virginia that go way beyond a failed gubernatorial campaign or particular personalities. What I worry about far more than Deeds' loss in 2009 is that, since then, there's been no serious effort to understand what happened, other than a fairly comprehensive, grassroots "After Action Report" written by yours truly -- and totally ignored by the "powers that be," in their undoubtedly infinite wisdom. There's also been no real accountability for those who presided over or participated in the debacle; no heads rolled; people were rewarded and applauded for their failings; incompetence was promoted; etc. What kind of message does THAT send?
Given all this discontent, the question then arises, why am I NOT planning to leave the Virginia Democratic Party? First off, just from a technical point of view, given that we don't register by party in Virginia, and given that there are no other membership criteria, there's really no way for me to "leave" the Democratic Party even if I wanted to do so.
More substantively, although I obviously have strong issues with the DPVA and many of our party's "leaders," I'm very happy with the work being done by my local party here in Arlington. I'm also impressed by the work being done by other local parties, and by the many strong and dedicated Democrats from Bristol to Virginia Beach to Richmond to Staunton...
Most importantly, I've been a loyal, committed Democrat for nearly 30 years now. Yes, I'm frustrated, exasperated, and even angry with my party in many ways, but the key words in there are "my party." Actually, make that "OUR party," because whatever screwed-up leadership and betrayal of progressive principles we've got right now in Virginia, the powerful progressive ideals and values of the Democratic Party are stronger than those folks and will live on long after they're gone and forgotten.
Today, with so many problems - economic, environmental, social, political - facing our great nation, how can we give up on the only political party that offers any serious hope for bettering our lives and America's future? How can we abandon the only party that at least generally works to protect the environment, put our country on the right course for the future, protect civil rights and civil liberties, defend a woman's right to control her own body, base policy in science and empirical information, and not "take us back" to the 1800s or the Robber Baron era or whatever? Answer: we can't abandon that party, no matter how disgusted we get with it, as long as the only serious alternative is a Republican Party that's gone off the far-right-wing deep end in recent years. Thats simply not acceptable.
The bottom line is this: the Democratic Party of Virginia is not Brian Moran's party or Dick Saslaw's party or Ward Armstrong's party. It is our party -- all of us. They don't own it; we do! Which is why there's absolutely no reason that we - real progressives, people who believe in fighting for the people versus the powerful, etc. - should be the ones who feel compelled to leave our party. Instead, here's a better idea: how about we all encourage the ones who are screwing things up and betraying our values to leave the Democratic Party of Virginia? That makes a lot more sense to me.

Jim Webb Critical of Libya Operation

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jim Webb's key criticisms:1. We have a military operation "but we do not have a clear diplomatic policy or a clear statement of foreign policy that is accompanying this military operation"
2. "We know we don't like the Qaddafi regime, but we do not have a clear picture of who the opposition movement really is"
3. "Yes, e got a vote from the U.N. Security Council in order to put this into play but we had five key abstentions in that vote - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Germany - and we have not put this issue in front of the American people in any meaningful way."
4. According to Sen. Webb, we've been "sort of on autopilot for almost 10 years now in terms of presidential authority in conducting these type of military operations absent the meaningful participation of the Congress." According to Webb, "this isn't the way our system is supposed to work."
5. Sen. Webb says that "the President and the Secretary of State have a very clear obligation now to come forward to the American people and to the Congress and state clearly what they believe the end point of this should be; they haven't done that."
6. Finally, Webb believes "this issue is of much more economic importance to Britain and France...we don't have to get involved in every one of these [operations] quite frankly."

Would Bobby Scott Really Run Against Tim Kaine?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Since Doug Wilder claimed that Rep. Bobby Scott "had not ruled out running for [Jim Webb's U.S. Senate] seat-- even possibly mounting a primary challenge to Kaine, should the former governor run," I've been asking around to see what Democratic insiders think of this.First off, I hear that Rep. Scott feels disrespected, in that he's a senior member of the Virginia Congressional delegation, yet the establshment has only been talking seriously about Tom Perriello and Tim Kaine as potential candidates. In particular, I'm told that the talk about Perriello, who only served 1 term in Congress, particularly "infuriates" Scott -- or at least some of his top supporters -- who may feel "taken for granted." Could this sense of grievance, if true, drive Bobby Scott to primary Tim Kaine for the nomination? It seems like a plausible motivation, but we'll see if it's strong enough.
Second, I've heard from several different people about how this was more about Doug Wilder, and his own issues/agenda. Along those lines, one person told me that Wilder is just trying to "stoke a fire and keep his name in the press." Now that I can believe, because from what I've seen of Wilder the past few years, it's always all about him.
Third, I'm told that Bobby Scott hates raising money, doesn't like to campaign, and always seems happier being talked about for higher office than actually running for higher office.
Finally, one Democratic insider made the argument to me that Bobby Scott would lose handily to Tim Kaine. Why? Because Scott's "never run a tough race, doesn't have the statewide name ID and can't raise the money."
So, what do you think? Personally, I'd be happy to see Bobby Scott run in a primary for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, as I see Scott as a strong progressive (which Kaine clearly is not). However, I have absolutely no idea if Scott would be interested in doing that (and no, someone with as little credibility as Doug Wilder saying Scott might be interested is not anything I take seriously).
Finally, I have no idea whether Scott would be effective in a tough, knock-down-drag-out fight against George Allen. And, as much as I would love to see a progressive champion representing Virginia in the U.S. Senate, my #1 priority is to make sure that a Republican - George Allen, Jamie Radtke, or whoever - isn't.

30th State Senate District Democratic Primary Race Heats Up

The 30th State Senate district Democratic primary race (to succeed Sen. Patsy Ticer, who is retiring) heated up significantly today. Two of the candidates, Libby Garvey and Rob Krupicka, went at each other, while the third candidate - Del. Adam Ebbin - has so far (wisely?) stayed out of it. The sequence of events was as follows:1. The Garvey campaign sent out a press statement (see the "flip") at around 1:30 pm, expressing her "outrage" over the "BRAC" (Base Relocation and Closure) facility slated to open this September on Seminary Road in Alexandria off I-395 at the "Mark Winkler site". According to the Garvey campaign, the Mark Center is "an absolutely unacceptable site for this building," in particular due to the expected, horrendous traffic mess this is expected to produce when it opens for operations. The Garvey campaign specifically points the finger at the Alexandria City Council, of which Rob Krupicka is a member, for not preventing this situation.
2. The Krupicka campaign responded with a short statement (see on the "flip" as well) stating that, "Like everyone in our community, I'm opposed to the BRAC location and think it should have been located near a Metro." The statement added, "I'm disappointed that Libby has decided to take her campaign on the attack."
3. The Krupicka campaign sent out a fundraising email, charging the Garvey campaign with going "on the attack, distorting my record of protecting the Winkler Botanical Preserve and dismissing my record of leadership on transit and transportation for our community."
I'm attempting to figure out what the truth is behind all these charges, back and forth. So far, what I've concluded is two things: a) that this is a thorny, complicated, and highly charged issue; and b) that this could be a hard-hitting primary campaign for months to come. I also find it interesting that this heated back-and-forth is coming so early in the campaign, when hardly anybody's paying any attention. Obviously, there's "strategery" going on here, I'm just not sure what it is exactly.

In a Parallel Universe Live 8 Democrats and 3 Republicans

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Democrats like KathyinBlacksburg reacted with consternation yesterday when details began to surface about the (predictable) incumbent protection plan. In the world of redistricting, anything is possible. In a parallel universe where Democrats control the state government and majority-minority districts are abolished, it wouldn't take too much effort to produce an 8-3 Democratic map. Below is a quick map I put together of such a situation. All it takes is using Northern Virginia to anchor four districts stretching out into the exurbs and rural areas, and breaking up the majority-minority 3rd district and distributing those Democrats into surrounding districts.
See more maps below the fold.
Kenton Ngo :: In a Parallel Universe Live 8 Democrats and 3 Republicans
Obviously this map is a work of pure fantasy, so I didn't spend too much time refining the partisan machinations. Each of the 8 Democratic districts were won by Obama in 2008 by 9 or more points. When averaged in with all statewide results in the last decade, these districts become less Democratic, but the trend in these areas is clear.
CD  2008  00-09Avg White Blk
1  D+10.4  D+4.4  59.4  19.9 
2   D+9.4  D+2.0  57.2  27.7
3  D+13.4  D+4.0  53.8  36.6
4  D+10.6  D+5.0  53.4  38.6
5   D+9.4  D+1.2  68.5  19.7
6  R+13.6 R+16.4  84.6   7.5
7  R+16.6 R+19.8  70.0  21.4
8  D+12.8  D+4.6  54.3  14.2
9  R+21.2 R+14.8  86.7   9.6
10 D+12.4  D+8.0  67.1   6.6
11 D+12.6  D+5.0  58.0   7.5
For a Democratic-drawn map, compactness and majority-minority districts are dangerous. Compactness threatens to pack urban voters together, creating supermajorities of Democrats. Likewise, majority-minority districts pack black voters into insurmountable fortresses, rendering neighboring districts conservative and lily-white.
Each of the 8 Democratic districts is "anchored" by a swath of urban votes. In Northern Virginia, the 10th has Arlington and Falls Church, the 11th Reston and Herndon, and the 8th and 1st share Alexandria and eastern Prince William County. Charlottesville and Richmond are linked to create the new 5th, Newport News and Petersburg anchor the new 3rd, and the new 2nd is carried by Hampton and Norfolk. As many rural whites are packed into the 6th 7th and 9th as possible, with the rest of them diluted into the remaining 8 districts.
Urban crescent inset:

Northern Virginia inset:

Redistricting is one of the dirtiest processes in politics, subject to the most mischief--but it doesn't take a magician to make redistricting magic.

Larry Sabato: "Tim Kaine tells a Richmond class he is running for Senate."

Monday, March 14, 2011

I just saw the news on UVA Professor Larry Sabato's Twitter feed:"Unconventional announcement: Tim Kaine tells a Richmond class he is running for Senate."
Sabato adds, "Kaine-Allen will be 1 of half-dozen top '12 Senate races. Appears close at starting gate. Who knows what twists and turns contest will take?"
Also, blogger Rick Sincere tweets "Tim Kaine tells UR class he is candidate for US Senator reports WINA."
I'm waiting for more details, confirmation of this news (or should I say "news?"), etc.
UPDATE@HotlineJosh tweets, "One top adviser in Kaine inner circle: "First I've heard" about Senate "announcement" at URichmond."
UPDATE #2Peter Hamby of CNN tweets, "@LarrySabato have you verified that? a lot of smart politicos in Virginia have not." Also, "re: Kaine - everyone is citing a tweet that hasn't been confirmed." I'm starting to doubt this story.
UPDATE #3Jennifer Epstein of Politico tweets, "V[ery] convoluted story on Kaine and #VASEN. UR student called WINA to say two of his friends told him that Kaine told their class he's running." Looking less and less likely by the minute...
UPDATE #4: Reporter Michael Shear tweets, "@larrysabato tweet about Kaine running based on local radio caller, he says. Guy named greg called in to say friends told him kaine running." Hmmmmmm.
UPDATE #5: My god, this is a complete and utter FAIL (not to mention a joke - the rightwing Schilling Show, no less)!
A University of Richmond student has been told that former governor Tim Kaine has said he WILL run for the U.S. Senate. A caller named Greg phoned the Schilling Show on Newsradio 1070 WINA early Monday afternoon and said he has two friends taking the class that Kaine teaches at the UR Jepson School. Kaine reportedly told the class that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being left vacant by Jim Webb. Greg says his friends told him that Kaine acknowledged that he has yet to make an official announcement, but he did tell the class that he is running. Kaine teaches the leadership class every Monday at the the Jepson School.
FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL.UPDATE #6: Reporter Adam Rhew tweets, "DNC out w/ statement on kaine, says comments came in response to a student question, kaine said he's leaning toward a run, no final decision."
UPDATE #7: Here's the DNC press release, courtesy of The Shad Plank blog.
In response to a student's question, Governor Kaine told his law school class today what is already widely known which is that he is increasingly likely to run. However, no final decision will be made or announced until the governor has had a final round of consultations with folks about how he can best serve the President, the people and the causes he cares about; he is assured that the Democratic Party will be in good hands should he choose to make the race and leave the DNC; he has the support that would be necessary to mount a successful campaign and he completes commitments for travel and fundraising he has made to the Party and the President through at least the end of the month.

Finally! We Found the Missing Village Idiot!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yesterday, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-9th) embarrassed himself (see starting around 1:39:25 of the video), the 9th Congressional District, Virginia, and really the entire United States of America, demonstrating for the world to see: 1) his proud ignorance of science; 2) his total looniness, bordering on insanity; 3) his utter disrespect for the institution of Congress; and 4) his complete control by the coal industry, and complete lack of integrity in parroting their pathetic, "cigarettes don't cause cancer" style propaganda. I mean, I wasn't the biggest fan of Rick Boucher because I thought HE was too much in Big Coal's pocket, but at least Boucher was a rational human being who respected science and had a long-term, enlightened view of the coal industry. Morgan Griffith? He's just completely bonkers - not to mention the missing village idiot we've been looking for all these years. With that, heeeere's Crazy Morgan!
...Has anybody studied what the temperatures were during the period in history known as the 'great optimum,' which led to the rise of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures. That was a time in history of global warming. We know that. But how hot did it get? Obviously those were things that led to the rise of our earliest civilizations.  At some point, I'd like to have somebody look at the 'lesser optimum,' which is closer in time. How much did the temperature rise then? We know that that led to the Vikings dominating Europe for several hundred years. And where the ice cap in the North is melting, we're now finding evidence of Viking habitation in those areas. Can somebody answer the question of why are the ice caps on Mars melting. Both NASA and National Geographic have reports on this. Is it in fact a shift in the orbit of Mars or is it that the sun is putting out more radiant heat? Why 40 years ago, when I was in elementary and middle school, were we taught that an increase in greenhouse gases was going to lead to a new ice age? These are questions that I, believe it or not, lie awake at night trying to figure out.
Yeah, and I lay awake at night trying to figure out how an absolute imbecile like Morgan Griffith got elected to the U.S. Congress.P.S. For some information on the "witnesses" called yesterday, see here. Also, as Henry Waxman correctly points out, "All that seems to matter [to the House GOP] is what Koch Industries thinks." Other than that, it's not even worth spending a second of time debunking the Mars crap, the sunspots crap, or any of the other crap spewing from Morgan Griffith's mouth - or from the mouths of his ignoramus Republican't colleagues. Just pity them, and wonder how evolution - or a deity, if you're so inclined - could have produced such creatures.

Teddy Goodson Wins Community Service Award, Talks About the "Grassroots"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Our own Teddy Goodson accepts the Fred Silverthorne Community Service Award from State Senator Chap Petersen at this morning's 11th Congressional District Awards Luncheon in Fairfax City, then has a few words on the grassroots. Congratulations to Teddy on a well-deserved honor!

Republican Cuts Would Devastate Virginia; Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli Silent

Friday, March 4, 2011

Remember how Virginia Republicans were outraged at the Defense Department's announced intention "to close the Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command, potentially costing the Hampton Roads region thousands of jobs?" At the time, Rep. Randy Forbes (R) even complained that the cuts were "merciless, cruel and without pity." So, you'd think that Republicans have a principled opposition to any federal moves that might hurt Virginia's economy and cost the state jobs, right?Think again.
On the "flip" is a highlight sheet, helpfully provided by the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, of how badly proposed Republican spending cuts (under H.R. 1) would hurt Virginia. They make JFCOM look like small potatoes.
For instance, while shutting down JFCOM might result in the loss of, at most, 3,900 jobs - and probably a lot fewer - "an estimated 19,500 Virginia jobs would be lost if H.R. 1 is enacted into law." That's 5 times the number of Virginia jobs lost, thanks to the Republicans' budget proposals in Congress - supported by all Republicans in the Virginia delegation, I might add - than JFCOM at its worst. Yet Republicans like Bob McDonnell complained and complained about JFCOM, but not a peep about HR 1. What's THAT all about?!? Hmmmm.
But wait, it gets worse. On top of the crushing job losses to Virginia, Republicans spending cuts would also "hurt education in Virginia," "make Virginia's workforce less competitive," cut Pell college tuition assistance by "nearly $700" per Virginia undergrad, cause "more than 3,300 Virginia children [to] lose access to Head Start,"  make Virginia less secure by slashing homeland security investments and "hurting local law enforcement's ability to keep Virginians safe," making Metro and ports in the Hampton Roads area less secure. Other than that, HR 1 is a great idea. Not.
So, given these extremely harmful proposed cuts to Virginia, where's the outrage Bob McDonnell? Cat got your tongue on this one? Or is it just that you complain, whine, and moan when it's Democrats who are proposing the cuts, but you keep your mouth clamped firmly shut when it's your own party that would severely harm the state you're supposed to be fighting for? Just wanted to get that straight, ya know?
P.S. And what about Ken Cuccinelli? I'm shocked he's not suing Congress to stop this assault on Virginia! I mean, he sues at the drop of a hat when it's Democrats attempting to do good things - create clean energy jobs or provide health care to all Virginians - yet he sits on his hands when Republicans work to undermine Virginia's economy and security. Gee, what could that double standard be about?

Jay Fisette Will Not Run for 31st State Senate District; Other News from ACDC Meeting

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I just got back from the Arlington County Democratic Commmittee (ACDC) meeting, and am currently uploading video to YouTube. Things are definitely heating up politically in Arlington these days, with the recent retirement announcements by Senators Patsy Ticer (D-30th) and Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31st), and with speculation as to who might run for their seats. Tonight at ACDC, some of those questions were answered.First, some "new news": I talked to Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, who had been mentioned as a potentially strong candidate for the 31st State Senate district. According to Fisette, he is not and will not be a candidate. Basically, he feels that this is a commitment of multiple terms, and given where he's at in his life right now, he doesn't feel like he's prepared to make that commitment.
Second, Mike Signer also had been mentioned as a possible candidate for the 31st Senate district, maybe even announcing his candidacy at tonight's ACDC meeting. Signer was at the meeting, but he didn't announce. Also, I heard from a couple of people that Signer had decided not to run for this seat, but I haven't confirmed that yet.
Third, Libby Garvey announced her candidacy for the 30th Senate district. Garvey was introduced by two-time ACDC Chair Peter Rousselot. I'll have video of that in a little while. {UPDATE: The video is available, on the "flip" and in the comments section}
Fourth, Stephanie Dix Clifford announced her candidacy for the 49th House of Delegates seat, which is being vacated by Del. Adam Ebbin as he runs for the 30th State Senate district. Clifford was introduced by former Arlington Young Democrats President Gordon Simonett. Video is available on the "flip" and in the comments section.
Fifth, Miles Grant interviewed Del. Adam Ebbin about his run for Senate; that video is available on the "flip."
Sixth, Beth Arthur announced for reelection as Arlington Sheriff, and Mary Hynes announced for reelection to the County Board.
Finally, there were resolutions honoring Senators Whipple and Ticer, as well as a presentation to Charley Conrad of the Tom Whipple Party Service Award and an excellent panel on "Race in Arlington Politics," featuring moderator Terron Sims and panelists Portia Clark and Edgar Aranda-Yanoc. Overall, an excellent meeting of one of the most active and most effective Democratic committees in Virginia!
UPDATE: I had heard rumors that Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola had decided to run for Mary Margaret Whipple's Senate seat; NLS has confirmed that she is.